Re: Passive Infinitive in John 3:30

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Mon May 26 1997 - 06:31:21 EDT

At 7:10 AM -0400 5/26/97, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

>>John 3:30,
>>Since EME is in the accusative, and ELATTOUSQAI is passive, I
>>wondered why this verse is invariably translated as if the
>>nominative and the active voice were present? Why not rather
>>translate it as passive, "It is necessary for Him to increase,
>>but for me to be decreased"?
>The reason is that ELATTOUSQAI is middle (or reflexive), NOT passive--and
>the English equivalents most commonly used to translate both of the Greek
>verbs here in the infinitive are generally intransitive: "He must wax, but
>I must wane."

Hi Carl;

Thank you very much for your assistance! ETI QAUMAZW . . .

AUCANEIN is definitely active, and ELATTOUSQAI is not, right. I
guess the latter could be either middle or passive. Why is the one
active and the other not?

I guess I sense a complete resignation on his part to the necessity
of God's decree (which I understand as introduced by DEI); and the
focus on John makes a good case for seeing the middle voice. But
how conclusive is this?

Mounce tags ELATTOUSQAI as passive. The only other non-active
infinitive in John is in 3 John 2, which is similar in syntax to
this case, SE EUODOUSQAI. I think this is passive. Does the
presence of the accusative help to decide whether the middle or
passive is in view?

>This verse always reminds me of the very idiomatic Thucydidean dictum, a
>sort of expression of the second law of thermodynamics: PANTA FILEI
>ELATTOUSQAI, "Everything tends to degenerate."

Hey, I was going to say that! ;o (Sure, Jim!) <g>

In Christ,
Jim Beale

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